Transition between High School and Uni

Starting university is so daunting, especially after spending years in a cosy haven filled with familiarity. And after working your butt off in the final two years of high school, you’re suddenly thrown into a cold and foreign place.

As a third year, high school seems like such a long time ago. But I still remember how lost and confused I was when just starting out.

Here are some things I wish I had known during first year, and I hope it’ll make your transition just the bit easier.

Make some friends

This is the most obvious thing to do in a place where you don’t know anybody. But not unlike most people, I had remained in the same high school since year 7 and maintained the same friends all throughout. So by the time I reached uni, I had forgotten how to make new friends. All my close friends had gone to a different uni which left me at lunchtimes without company.

A great way to make friends is by talking to people in tutes, lectures, and attending club activities. That way you can meet with people with the same interests as you. It can be intimidating, but everyone else is in the same boat. A simple “hi” and an introduction will suffice. J

Form study groups

A great way to lessen the workload and get it all under control is to form study groups. It could be among friends, or people from your class. These people are who you can turn when stuck on an assignment, who will remind you when things are due when the lecturers don’t, and perfect for consolidating subject content with.

Sometimes you might find yourself weeks behind and skipping lectures. There’s no easy way of dealing with this but to give yourself time to catch up and the best way to avoid this, is to stay on top of things. Skipping lectures is easy. We’re all guilty of thinking that we’ll catch up them soon. A great way to avoid this is to schedule tutorials, practicals, and workshops on the same day as lectures.

Get in the know

It seems like there’s not much that happens outside of class if you don’t know where to look. However, the uni hosts a plethora of events and workshops, from BBQs and gatherings hosted by clubs, to skill building workshops and information sessions.

Always check emails from your faculty newsletter, subject noticeboards, and careers online. This is where you can find out skill building workshops that focus on job preparation, or simply an aspect of interest, like arranging flowers, for example. As well as great public lectures given by guest speakers, or info sessions about internships or graduate career plans.

Other than that, are emails from UMSU and various clubs that you might have joined. This is primarily where you can find out about social activities like BBQs, plays, and club events. Don’t forget to follow your clubs, UMSU, and UMSU activities on Facebook to never miss out on an event again!


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Making the decision to change study directions: My experience

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a mathematician. Throughout high school I excelled at maths and was constantly praised for it, and because of this I made the decision to pursue maths in my future. I began university in 2015 and knew from the start that I was going to major in maths and become and mathematician. However, this year I have just begun my masters in electrical engineering. Somewhere along the way I changed paths, and through this post I want to explain how I came to that decision and maybe even help those of you who have became confused about their life plans.

I’ll start by saying that I have always lived with maths; my dad and my eldest brother are both pure mathematicians. It’s unclear if their influence lead me into wanting to be in the same field, but what I know for sure is that I always felt like I was living in the shadow of my brother. This made me want to work even harder, prove to everyone that I could be just as good of a mathematician as he is. The only problem with this is it lead me to in a way subconsciously resent my own brother while at the same time slowly grow more tired of maths. All I could think was that I was working so hard, and his achievements seemed so effortless.

When I was 19 I went on a trip to New Zealand, whilst there I visited a geothermal energy plant. I was so intrigued by the process of harnessing the earth’s own power to make electricity. I would say this was one of the first times I thought that maybe there’s more I could be passionate about than just maths. It was such a small thing, but for years to come it was something I would think about when maths was getting me down.

It was when I got to third year when I realised that I definitely wasn’t as happy as I could be. I got to a point where I dreaded going to uni the next day, and where my procrastination levels hit a peak. I just didn’t love maths like I used to. Part of me thought it could be just be a phase; that I could just be in a slump. I spent months like this, until I had to confront these feelings and realise that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a career I felt so half-hearted about. This was when I first truly considered other options.

In the end, after talking to a lot of people and friends in other courses I came to a conclusion. Electrical Engineering. I didn’t want to drop out of my bachelor’s degree; I was so close to finishing that I never even considered that an option. However, when applying for masters I knew that I didn’t want to pursue maths. I finished my degree, and am so incredibly proud and happy with my major in maths. However, the day I got accepted into Electrical Engineering I felt a sudden sense of euphoria and calmness.

I have now started my Masters in Electrical Engineering, I don’t know anyone and can’t find my way around the new buildings. I am the most happy I have been in a long time.

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“How to recover from an Uber Eats addiction: Three recipes to get you started” (easy student food)

It’s reached that point in the year where that $5 fee to have Maccas fries delivered to your door had started you on a small existential and budgetary crisis. But never fear – before you resign yourself to a week of mi goreng and cheesy toasties, let me broaden your horizons to the lesser known cuisine of Student Food: cheap, tasty, and the most amateur of amateur recipes. Now before you say “I can’t cook”, these recipes are coming from the person who at eighteen years old had to Google how to boil an egg – so if I can do it, you can too! (besides, it’s all just chemistry anyway right?)

These are some of my favourite fall back meals I’ve managed to pick up along the way. All of them can easily be adapted to be vegetarian, and if you’re cooking for one the serving sizes are large enough to be eaten over the next few of days (Yay for packed lunches!).

Broccoli Cheese Pasta Bake

This is my go-to guilty-pleasure lunch food during semester. Bake a dish on Sunday and then voila! – Lunch for the whole week.

For the bake:

  • 400g dried pasta
  • 200g broccoli, chopped into small floret (approx. 1 small broccoli bunch)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 100g fresh spinach leaves
  • 100g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

For the cheese sauce:

  • 700ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 200g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 2000 C
  2. Boil the kettle and fill your largest saucepan with the boiling water. Place on a medium heat and bring back to the boil, then add a pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook for the time stated on the packet. Add the broccoli 5 minutes before the end of the pasta cooking time. Drain the pasta and broccoli well in a colander once cooked.
  3. Warm the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion and garlic are soft but not brown.
  4. Meanwhile, start the cheese sauce. Make sure you have a wooden spoon, whisk and the milk measured out in a jug next to you. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat.
  5. When all the butter is melted, tip in the flour and stir it in quickly with the wooden spoon. It will look like a thick paste. Continue to stir vigorously for the next couple of minutes until the paste starts to bubble.
  6. Pour in the milk a little at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition until smooth. When all the milk has been added, the sauce should look smooth and glossy. Tip in the grated cheese and continue to whisk. Season with salt and pepper and let it bubble gently for 4-5 minutes, whisking continuously.
  7. Stir together the cooked pasta and broccoli, the onion and garlic, the fish spinach leaves and cheese sauce in a large baking dish. Sprinkle the cheddar over the top and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Adapted from ‘The Hungry Student Vegetarian Cookbook’ by Charlotte Pike

Cost Estimate: ~$10.00


Raisin and Pine Nut Couscous w Lamb and Continental Parsley

Moist and buttery, this couscous is sweetened with raisins and crunchy pine nuts. A slightly fancier student recipe to impress visiting friends and possible parents coming over for dinner.

  • 1/2 bunch fresh continental parsley
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 1/2 brown onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 55g (1/3 cup) raisins
  • 45g (1/4 cup) pine nuts
  • 500ml (2 cups) chicken stock
  • 240g (1 1/4 cups) couscous

Carnivore friendly:

  • 400g lamb diced
  • spices to season (cumin, salt, pepper)


  1. Prepare the stock according to the label. Carnivore friendly: Marinade the lamb in extra olive oil and season with spices, set aside.
  2. Pick the leaves from the parsley stalks and reserve. Discard half the stalks. Finely chop the remaining stalks and reserve.
  3. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large deep pan over medium heat until foaming. Cook onion and salt, stirring occasionally for 12 minutes or until golden. Add raisins, pine nuts and reserved parsley stalks. Cook for 3 minutes or until pine nuts are golden and raisins expanded, stirring continuously.
  4. Add stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Stir in the couscous and remove the pan from the heat. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  5. While waiting for the couscous, roughly chop the parsley leaves. Carnivore friendly: Stir-fry the lamb in a frying pan on a high heat until cooked through.
  6. Use a fork to separate the grains of couscous. Stir in the [lamb and] chopped parsley leaves.

Adapted from ‘Raisin & pine nut couscous with parsley’

Cost Estimate: ~$7.00 (+$10 for Lamb)

Spaghetti Bolognese

A recipe as old as time, there are so many variations of the good old spag bol. This is loosely based on a combination of my parents’ two conflicting recipes and is super easy to whip up (and keeps in the fridge for meals throughout the week).

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2cm cube of fresh ginger (optional)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 bunch broccolini
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 cup of frozen peas and corn
  • spaghetti
  • 1 can of tinned tomatoes (diced)
  • Optional: chopped parsley and grated cheese to serve

Carnivore friendly:

  • 400g beef mince


  1. Dice the carrots and zucchini. Prepare the broccolini by removing small leaves, and cutting into small pieces of about 2cm in size.
    Carnivore friendly: Meanwhile, put a dash of olive oil in a large pan and bring it to a high heat. Add the beef mince and fry for about 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside. (Reuse this pan for the vegetables and sauce in Step 3)
  2. Boil the kettle and fill a medium saucepan with the boiling water. Bring to the boil. Place on medium heat and bring back to the boil. Add the carrots to the saucepan. After 4 minutes, add the zucchini and broccolini to the carrots and cook for another 3 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, dice the garlic and ginger into very small pieces and chop up the onion. Heat a dash of olive oil in a large frying pan at medium heat, then add the garlic and ginger. After about 30s, add the chopped onion and fry until the onion is lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
  4. Boil the kettle again and fill the saucepan with boiling water. Add some salt and the desired number of servings of spaghetti and cook for the time stated on the packet. Drain well
  5. Once the onions are cooked, turn the heat down to low and add the frozen peas and corn to the frying pan. Chop the capsicum into small bite-sized pieces, then add to the pan. Add the cooked carrot, broccolini and zucchini. Stir until all vegetables are combined.
  6. Add the can of diced tomatoes to the frying pan and any spices to season until well combined. Mix in the spaghetti (Optional: Mix in the beef mince). Serve seasoned with roughly chopped parsley or cheese.

Note: After a day or so, if the pasta starts to taste a bit samey, stir in a pre-prepared pasta sauce of your choice.

Adapted from life

Cost Estimate: ~$9.50 (+$4-6 for minced beef)

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How to start the first semester of your first year right

First up, welcome back! I’m sure you’ve had an awesome summer break and now that uni is rolling up the corner, ‘gosh I just want to have vacation forever’. But fear not, a new semester is just another chapter of your uni life to be filled with memories that you will miss! So, while you go out to network, party or just having a life outside of uni, it is equally important to keep track of your studies.

I have put together a list that helps me keep my studies in check, hope you guys will find it helpful!

  1. You don’t have to buy the textbooks on the LMS – those textbooks will be helpful but if you can’t afford to buy them, then don’t. There are plenty of those books in the library and save a couple hundreds of bucks.
  2. Use the Student Services and Academic Skills – if you have troubles selecting classes or anything related, don’t forget the services at STOP 1 are free for students so do yourself a favour and just drop by to get everything sorted with the right personnel. Also, academic skills is a saviour, they run workshops and have resources for anything you need to ace the new semester. You can even book an academia to check your writing before submitting it.
  3. Keep a planner – daily, weekly, or a monthly planner will keep you on top of your game. Again, you can access a semester planner from Academic Skills and you can fill in all the assessments and dates of each subject you are taking.
  4. Do things sooner rather than later (and be sorry) – if you have three weeks to finish your assignment, start planning and doing it now incrementally. You can take breaks and still have plenty of time to work on it without rushing and you will never blame it on procrastination again.
  5. Make friends that are in the same class – I know, I know, you think you can handle the it on your own or you are an introvert. But trust me, more often than ever it is very handy to have friends that you can borrow notes from, to discuss lessons with and to revise with. It will save your grade.
  6. Take care of yourself – lastly, stay hydrated and give yourself a rest when you don’t feel like studying. You can’t just charge forward and have no rest because it will backfire. It’s okay to do nothing for a short while and jump right back into your study routine.

Good luck with uni, and don’t forget to come to WISE’s monthly free coffee and cake events to de-stress and talk to many others who are going through the same thing 😊

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From History Major to Management Consultant: One Year In

Contributed by Sydney-based Oliver Wyman Consultant Alexandra Biggs
A year and a half ago, I was furiously working on my Honours thesis in history as part of my Bachelor of Arts, navigating the complex narrative of migration and multiculturalism in Australia.
Eleven months ago, I was travelling in the Middle East, enjoying time off after university visiting mosques, synagogues and churches, as well as archaeological sites and some recreational skiing in spectacular conditions in Iran.
Ten months ago, I began working as a consultant with Oliver Wyman, a job that, in addition to my home office in Australia, has already taken me to Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
It has been an extraordinary transition from history student to management consultant and has required wrapping my head around entirely new ways of working – not to mention learning a seemingly whole new vocabulary of terminology and a never-ending multitude of acronyms!
Within two days of completing my training in Singapore, I was asked to fly to the Philippines to support a project in Manila identifying digital transformation opportunities for a major bank. Since then, I’ve covered a multitude of topics for a variety of clients, with an enormous learning curve to match.
But how did I end up in consulting in the first place?
Like many Arts students, I never knew much about the world of professional services, and until my final year at university would never have considered pursuing management consulting. During my Honours year, I was fortunate to have a research opportunity with a consulting firm open up, as well as friends and mentors who pointed me in that direction. On reflection, it seems a pretty comfortable and compatible fit: I enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) research and analysis, and liked the idea of applying these skills to tangible problem-solving scenarios.
While the basic principles of consulting were familiar and appealed to my interests, coming from a humanities background necessitated a steep learning curve: in addition to the acronyms, I’ve spent the last year building up my quantitative analytical skills and familiarising myself with new industries and sectors. To date, none of my colleagues seem to mind when I have a million questions or need to take some extra time to read up on unfamiliar areas.
Absolutely critical to the culture at Oliver Wyman are the people. I’m usually quite cynical about recruiting jargon, but there’s one thing I remember reading on the OW website as an applicant that has continued to resonate with me as being authentically true: “inspired people with interesting lives make better consultants.” All of my colleagues are both inspiring and interesting, and I have learnt so much from them in less than a year.
I think that the academic discipline you study matters far less than many think: diversity of background is part of what makes this company tick. Curiosity and drive are just as important as any undergraduate degree. In under a year with Oliver Wyman, I am now armed with knowledge and experiences of sectors and industries that I knew nothing about.
The past year has introduced me to topics and fields that were entirely foreign to me as a university student. Having learnt so much so quickly, I’m looking forward to seeing where the next couple of years will take me.
For more information about Careers at Oliver Wyman, please visit
Original article:
Oliver Wyman Sydney Blog series:
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How to deal with living away from family for the first time as an international student

Moving away from home is a massive step that many of us take in order to pursue our ‘dream’ career but my fellow international students and I take that to the next level where we travel abroad to study, leaving behind our families and all that is familiar to us. So for those of you who have done so (good on you for being so brave!), I have some experiences to share with you about adapting to Melbourne.

1. The Melbourne trams
Taking the public transport was not something I ever did back home as everyone would own their own family car so using public transport was something I needed to get used to. Back in 2015 most of the trams didn’t have proper announcing systems so I found myself constantly peering out of the windows and trying to see around people who were really tall (I am a disadvantaged height of 5’2), trying to make sure I didn’t miss my stop. What I found most helpful in these cases is to use the Tramtracker app which would give you information about all the stops on the line and the possible connections all in real time. Google maps was the other reliable alternative. The Journey planner function on the PTV website is very useful when having to take longer trips with trains, it tells you the exact route. Don’t forgot to account extra time for delays especially in hot weather.

2. Being away from family
It’s daunting to be away from family for the first time and I didn’t find settling into Melbourne as scary because I had made friends at o-week, which helped me a lot as I had previously never lived away from home. As an international student, I think it’s extremely important to make friends at university, especially if you live alone and don’t have a roommate. The easiest way to do that is in your tutorials and or by joining some clubs at uni and then attending those social events. You can meet someone who takes your subjects and bond over uni struggles and have someone to tackle the group work with or someone who has similar interests as you so either way you have a friend to turn to in the event of need and in turn they have your support as well. So make sure you take the initiative and go be social! Don’t be shy, remember everyone is in the same situation as you are.

3. The household chores
I am a bit of a clean freak so cleaning was never an issue but for someone who has to do all these things for the first time it can be a bit overwhelming. My suggestion would be to set out certain a day in the week to get all the weekly cleaning done (DONT put this off- at the risk of sounding like a mother, a clean house means less chance of getting sick and having to cram because deadlines are looming!) and laundry (because you never want to run out of clothes)! And stick to it! That way you get into the habit and it becomes easier to do over time. One thing that I hate is grocery shopping, so I found the best way to overcome that is to get the shopping done, on a set day, once a week and pre-cook your meals for the week so you allow yourself plenty of time to study and of course, have fun!

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What to expect when you’re expecting… to do postgraduate research

So, you’ve decided to pursue post-grad studies after your undergrad degree – first of all, welcome to a very niche pile of nerds. We are sure you’ll fit right in. But how exactly is a research degree (Honours, Masters and PhD) different to under graduate studies?


1. It’s basically a job

The biggest difference I found was how much work I needed to do/was expected of me. I had worked 15 hours a week all through my undergraduate degree, and this wasn’t possible for my research degree (Biomedical Science Honours) – I had to spend hours in the lab, and while the hours are flexible within reason, the sheer amount of research hours makes working very difficult. You also will be working in a team of people, who need things done at certain times (not just uni deadlines), which brings me to my second point:

2. Relationships & Responsibilites

The relationship you have with your supervisors/mentors (including informal ones like senior PhD or Masters students) are really different to those you have to lecturers in undergrad. As you’re doing research for them, you are treated like a member in a team, with valid opinions, concerns etc. You are also more responsible than you were in undergrad – research is expensive, hard and a team effort a lot of the time, so it’s important to do your best and if you say you’re going to do something you need to follow through with that; you can’t not turn up because you are tired that day or stop partway through an experiment because something is missing – you’ll need to actively seek help or risk wasting time and resources (and in science and engineering, these resources are often expensive or irreplaceable!).

3. Contribution

The fact you are responsible for a research project means that you are actively contributing to the scientific community. You’ll get to put all the skills & knowledge you learnt throughout your undergraduate degree to use, and generate new knowledge – it’s very possible at one point in your research, you are the only person in the world to know something new about your area of research, which is a cool feeling. You might even publish some of your work in a scientific journal, or it may form the basis of a bigger project. 

Overall, I guess my overall message is postgraduate research is much more like a job as a researcher than undergraduate studies. It’s hard work, and it is often disappointing because things to don’t work, but you’ll form amazing relationships with the people you research with and develop into your full beautiful nerd* potential. If you have any more questions, please seek me out at one of our events and I’ll be happy to chat more about it.
Much Love from your Prez,



*phrase straight stolen from Roman Mars of the 99% invisible podcast. Thanks Roman!

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How I started my own buisness

Momentium started for one reason: to ensure that every student had the equal chance to pursue their passion through grit and curiosity. About 8 months ago, the organisation was founded as a simple technology development team for start-ups. We were a group of 2 unexperienced developers and 1 lead developer that were trying to create something different. Now, Momentium has over 60 consultants, 18 clients, and creating profits that are improving our value delivered to both students and clients. Not only do we provide technology services, we now also offer legal, business, and design strategy and implementation for our clientele. Furthermore, we provide training for all our consultants in skills that are in demand by the industry. This growth was completely unexpected, however, it all did come at a price.


Agile Workshop held for our consultants

Over the course of the 8 months, there was no rest day. When juggling 3rd year undergrad University work, other extracurricular commitments, and ensuring the growth of Momentium, there was no time to rest. This was because I strongly believed that if there is an opportunity, you should always go for it. Even if failure was imminent, I would still learn from the mistake and be prepared for the next opportunity. Therefore, I consistently overloaded myself, staying up almost every night trying to balance the needs of clients and my academic career. Despite the amount of work, I never felt tired. I absolutely loved the grind, the stress, and the uncertainty of success or failure. My experience with creating a business was a rollercoaster which exposed me to the emotional spectrum of seeing my peers burn out, in contrast to the elation of them landing their first graduate job. Building out a business has personally been the most rewarding yet taxing experience. From the people I have met to the businesses impacted, I have learnt more about myself and others in this short period of time.


On a more career focused note, I believe that doing such endeavors has built a personal mentality that has allowed me to land a graduate job in technology consulting within my dream company. From every founder, successful student receiving their graduate offer, or mentor that I have extensively worked with, the reoccurring trait wasn’t that they had a high WAM or were exceptionally talented in some technical skill, it was grit and curiosity in solving multi-dimensional problems. From working with over 150 students, and multiple start-ups in Victoria, I believe that anyone with enough grit and curiosity can create a start-up on their own or pursue a rewarding career in consulting.

If you like to learn more about consulting, careers, or Momentium feel free to reach out to me! ( )

A small chunk of the momentum team

A small chunk of the momentum team

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Hayley’s guide to coffee

Coffee. Fuel of sleep deprived and caffeine-dependent students everywhere. With most of us juggling some combination of essays, assignments, lab reports and exam preparation as we head into the end of semester and SWOTVAC, a little caffeine goes a long way. We’ve rounded up a list of places on or around campus for you to explore, and whether you’re after a place to study, relax or just grab a quick takeaway, there’s something here for everyone.

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 7.34.03 pmOn campus:

Standing Room:

Located in both Union House and the MSD this is a Unimelb favourite. The MSD shop also sells breakfast food (bagels, muesli and croissants) and other yummy treats.

House of Cards:

Get a dose of warm fuzzies with your coffee! Once you collect your drink, you can vote for which cause you want HOC to support this month. Due to the construction around the Old Engineering Building they’ve relocated down Engineering Lane, but they’re still easy to find – just look for the giant wooden crate and crowd of students.

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 7.30.11 pm-minTsubu:

It’s not just a bar! Tsubu is fairly quiet outside of lunchtime and has heaps of large tables making it a great place to grab a coffee and study or read.

Castro’s Kiosk:

So. Many. Choices. Seriously, the number of coffee creations here is mind-boggling and their names are pretty fun too.  

Off campus:

Seven Seeds

It’s a short walk but completely worth it for the food coffee at this café-roaster on Berkeley St. They can get very busy so be prepared to wait for a table during peak times.   

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 7.31.33 pm-minAnimal Orchestra:

Cozy mismatched décor and yummy food and drinks at student-friendly prices make this a great choice for a study break. Find it in the townhouse opposite Grattan street from Stop 1.


Ok, so it’s not actually coffee, but café @ resource (aptly named as it’s right outside the ERC level 3 entrance) does $2 hot chocolates from 2:30 to 3:30pm. Perfect if you need a sugary hit to get you through an afternoon slump.

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Something from Africa.

Our Vice President Marialena Michanetzi’s recount of her experience volunteering at Africa!

I spent two weeks in a rural area of Kenya, Ngong, as part of the Kenyan Village Medical Education Program (KVME, check it out here:, a program organized and run every year by the Melbourne University Health Initiative (MUHI). Needless to say, it affected me in many ways, it taught me heaps and it was one of the most freaking amazing experiences I have every had or will ever have in my life. I’d love to share a bit about what the program involved and my thoughts on it.

The Dream Team. Starting from left, David, Amanda, Aidan, Mandy, Elisha, Jasmine, Marialena (myself).

The Dream Team. Starting from left, David, Amanda, Aidan, Mandy, Elisha, Jasmine, Marialena (myself).

What we did:

The aim of the program was two-fold. First, my team and I (a total of 7 very passionate, energetic, and wonderful people) were staying at a children’s shelter, the Shelter Children’s Home in Ngong Kenya. There, we lived among kids of all ages, from one year old to young adults and we could interact and play infinitely with them and also help around the shelter with various tasks, such as re-painting rooms the kids live in, teaching the kids in the school located within the shelter and invest in projects that supported the long-term healthy development of the Shelter. For example, thanks to the fundraising that my team and I did before departing for Kenya, we bought the shelter a cow which will ensure milk for consumption and selling to benefit the shelter!

Sheila, the cow my team and I purchased in the shed that we helped build for her.

Sheila, the cow my team and I purchased in the shed that we helped build for her.

Secondly, and this was the main step of the trip’s purpose, we travelled to surrounding isolated -sometimes very isolated- villages to deliver presentations to villagers on various diseases, with pneumonia, diarrhoea, trachoma and also first aid training being the main topics. We presented the topic, we described the causes of the disease and we suggested methods both for prevention and also for treatment, with an emphasis on actions the villagers themselves can take when symptoms arise.

The presentations were sometimes conducted in English directly and sometimes in Swahili (Kenyan national language) or in a local dialect, with the help of translators. We tried our hardest to make the presentations interactive, fun and we often got the villagers to perform tasks themselves, in front of everyone and we asked questions to ensure that they remembered some of the material by the end. A lot of them had no idea of simple health measures to be taken. Other times, the perceptions of the villagers of what needs to be done, for example when someone has been bitten by a snake, came in contrast to the information that my team and I was presenting, due to more traditional (and sometimes fully effective) methods of treatment. This meant that we had to be very understanding of the cultures with which we were interacting and always try to make the material engaging and easy to digest.

How to make home-made ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) to help with symptoms of diarrhea

How to make home-made ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) to help with symptoms of diarrhoea

My thoughts:

Where do I start? I guess with the things that stayed with me most of all: The happiness of the children and of the people in general. Interacting with kids who have come from broken backgrounds but are all part of a big family at the shelter and seeing their happiness and energy just makes your heart warm up. It also has the magic ability of reminding you of what things are really important in life. Not to mention the kids are amazing dancers (even the one or two-year-old ones!) and they taught us some groovy African moves!

Additionally, I learned a lot about communicating foreign concepts to people of a culture, background and access to education that was very different from mine. I loved the challenge of trying to find fun and interactive ways to convey health and medical concepts to people of varying levels of education. I loved how those people, isolated in villages up in the mountains or out in the open desert-like tundra, where willing to spend time listening to some foreigners try to explain strange concepts and I am very happy to have seen that they learned things that perhaps will be useful to them one day.

I could keep going for ages but I just want to finish off by saying that it was an experience I totally recommend. The things you learn, the people you meet and the opportunity you have to try and make someone else’s life a tiny little bit healthier, are priceless.

Cheeky Daniel

Cheeky Daniel

adminSomething from Africa.
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